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Poster: Video-Cellar Date: Jul 30, 2009 8:32pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Scarlet Pimpernel copyright (Re: GATT Filings)

The 1956 UK copyright Act is available online at

The copyright term for motion pictures under 1956 act was to the end of 50 years from publication or registration. This term was originally duplicated in the 1988 Act and was changed to the multiple authors calculation in the 1995 legislation.

1911 Act protected films a class of dramatic work were the director of a film was the author of the film as a dramatic work. This law was still in effect until July 1957.

So, under the 1956 Act, Scarlet Pimpernel's copyright would have expired at the end of 1984 as it was registered under the Films Act. The provision of the 1995 legislation for "(e) published films and films falling within section 13(3)(a) of the 1956 Act (films registered under former enactments relating to registration of films)" to "subsist until the date on which it would have expired under the 1956 Act" might suggest that the copyright in the work was not revived by the 1995 Act. Thus, it would have been PD in its source country at GATT??

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Poster: Fact_Checker Date: Aug 4, 2009 6:43am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Scarlet Pimpernel copyright (Re: GATT Filings)

Thanks Video-Cellar. The 1956 UK law text looks very conclusive. As you indicate, under this set of rules, a 1934 movie went into the public domain in the UK in 1984, and thus when GATT went into effect (passed by U.S. Congress in 1994) would already be beyond eligibility, based on the rule that any work that had gone into the public domain in the source country for having exhausted the time limits is not eligibility for a new copyright in the U.S.

The U.K. broadened copyrights in 1988, but that was after 1984, thus seemingly not applicable to a 1934 movie. The only thing I can see being of effect here is yet some other change in the U.K. dated 1957 to 1984, but I'm aware of no major changes to U.K. copyright law during those years.

Once again, it was great to have Video-Cellar provide the link and let all of us reading here see what the U.K. legislature enacted in their own words.

Question: does anyone know of any source for decades-old copyright law texts for France, Italy, Germany, Sweden and the other countries that made movies which appealed to Americans? Better still: decades-old copyright law texts in English translations? The WIPO web site is a great resource for the current laws (in English translations, no less), but this "Scarlet Pimpernel" thread has proven the value of the historic law texts.